ALS is incurable. Therefore, current ALS treatment generally does not aim to stop the disease but rather to relieve symptoms of ALS and maintain the quality of life for the individual for as long as possible. For example, physical therapy can help prevent and treat muscle cramps and pain and avoid contractures and problems with the joints.
Muscle relaxant medications, such as baclofen, may also be used to help reduce muscle spasticity and/or cramping.
Unfortunately, there is no medication or procedure that can cure or prevent the progression of the disease. One medication, called riluzole is often used in patients with ALS. It does not cure the disease or completely halt its progression. However, in some patients it has been shown to slow the progression of the disease. However, this is not a dramatic effect, generally only prolonging life a few months or so.
In the more advanced stages of the disease, ALS treatment may include ventilatory support. Once the muscles of respiration and swallowing are affected, patients can suffer respiratory failure and are prone to aspiration which can lead to pneumonia. For these reasons, survival at this stage requires mechanical ventilation. However, prolonged mechanical ventilation has its own problems associated with it, often leading to lung infection at some point. Respiratory failure and infection are common causes of death in these late stages of the disease.
Because no treatment can cure amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, the primary goal of therapy is generally to improve patient comfort.
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This site is not intended to offer medical advice. Every patient is different, and only your personal physician can help to counsel you about what is best for your situation. What we offer is general reference information about various disorders and treatments for your education.